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MARIUS POPESCU, NN ROMANIA
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Better the devil you know?

The elections are fast approaching and it seems like we are entering deeper and deeper into what is officially called the electoral campaign

April 2012 - From the Print Edition

However, no campaign over the past two decades in Romania has looked professional, drawing on brilliant ideas and passionately held principles. Instead, the electorate was simply subjected to the same old spectacle of politicians trying to cling onto or gain power by fair means or foul (usually foul).
The first sign of a dirty campaign came a few weeks ago, when banners attacking the other camp, in this case the opposition for their parliamentary strike, started to spring up around Bucharest.
While such negative campaigning is nothing new in Romanian politics, this time the dirty tricks have started even before the officially campaign is underway.
This disturbing development most likely heralds the start of a campaign that will be even more lacking in professionalism and dignity than the previous ones.
Already anything a politician or party says or does smacks of insincerity. Think back to the end of March, when Prime Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu rebuked the very same people who made him PM so recently, storming out of a government meeting and alleging that he was coming under pressure to allocate budget funds to specific constituencies.
The general secretary of the Democrat Liberal Party responded immediately with an official statement, saying that, although he had not been present at the meeting, he could give assurances that there was no tension between the PM and his colleagues. So whatís the truth?
Who stands to benefit from the PMís fit of pique? If he did storm out, would that boost Ungureanuís public image? Would voters think that Ungureanu had shown uprightness in standing up to his backers?
Unfortunately, like the boy who cried wolf, the current crop of politicians are reaping what their mendacity has previously sown and it is hard to believe anything that comes out of their mouths.
Iím skeptical about Ungureanuís reasons for storming out of the meeting, but neither am I persuaded by Ioan Oltean, the PDLís general secretary, not a politician known for being overburdened with integrity.
Moreover, other individuals, who were not even in the room, have weighed in, stating confidently that everything is fine and the whole thing is just an opposition hoax.
Which makes me wonder what the opposition would gain from acting this way. Will a reluctant voter be persuaded to put his or her cross by the opposition because the Prime Minister is arguing with the ruling party? This is childish thinking.
However, the opposition seems to be taking a somewhat more honest approach with its program at least, according to which, in early April it will unveil its candidates for president and prime minister.
Here again we must ask: will the opposition present the team as any political party in the proper way or will it be done as if they have already won. Once again I find myself slipping down the slope of disbelief.
All of this is only further proof that, unfortunately, Romaniaís political class is not on the right track.
It is true that their values have been analyzed, but not enough.
However, there seem to be few alternatives. And, more worryingly, because those who would come to power have run out of patience and want to reach the top as soon as possible, the new alternatives are, from my point of view, a bunch of opportunists.
Therefore, to use a phrase that seems to define us, at the coming elections we will probably once again have to choose ďthe lesser evilĒ, or at least the best of a bad bunch.
Will it be a case of better the devil you know or we will end up with the devil we donít? ■



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